The nine-wicket demolition of Bangladesh exceeded even Virat Kohli’s expectations but the skipper quickly played down the hype around the upcoming blockbuster Champions Trophy final against arch-rivals Pakistan.
A clinical India, riding on Rohit Sharma’s unbeaten 123 and Kohli’s 96 not out, proved too strong for Bangladesh in the second semifinal of the marquee ICC event here today.
India will lock horns with Pakistan in the title clash on Sunday.
“Another complete game. We needed to have a clean, collective game. We didn’t expect to win by nine wickets, but that’s the quality of our top order,” Kohli said at the post- match press conference.
As expected, he was asked about the Pakistan game, and Kohli repeated what he had been saying all along.
“We’re taking it as any other game, I know that’s boring but that’s our mindset.”
The captain was not worried that India’s middle order was not getting enough opportunities to have a go.
“It’s never a worry when your middle order isn’t batting too much. Everyone is hitting the ball magnificently in practice. It’s a worry when your middle order is required to bat too early in the game, too often.”
Kohli lauded Kedar Jadhav, whose two wickets proved decisive in restricting Bangladesh to 264 for seven at the Edgbaston.
“He’s not a surprise package (Kedar), he’s a smart guy, he knows where to pitch the ball and see what the wicket is offering. It could have been close to 300.”
Asked about his own effort with the bat, Kohli said, “I wanted to give myself some time, 10-15 balls. Last time, we lost a wicket, so I had to adapt, I like those challenges. I grew in confidence. When you’re coming onto the short ball, you know you’re playing well.”
Man of the Match Rohit said the wicket eased out as the innings progressed.
“It was a great knock, especially when it comes on a winning note. Have been trying to get a big one, in the last two games. Was quite determined today.”
When asked about his skipper’s batting, Rohit said, “It felt like he was batting overnight. As a captain, he was brilliant.”
“The wicket was brilliant. I kept telling myself to bat as much as possible. We’ve been playing good cricket.”
Asked about the final against their arch-rivals, Rohit said, One last hurdle, a big game against Pakistan.”
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza felt the set batsmen got out at crucial junctures.
“We could have scored 300, even 320, but our set batsmen getting out was a setback to us. Next time, we’ll come back strongly. We need to learn. Skill-wise we’re fine, but mentally we need to be stronger,” Mortaza said.
Mortaza conceded that his team needs to get “mentally tougher” in crunch games, which has been their undoing in big-ticket tournaments.
“We have repeated these mistakes often in big matches. This was a match where we should have scored 330 but ended up scoring 264. We need to get mentally tough in these situations and when we come back next time, may be correct mistakes,” Mortaza said at the post-match press conference.
“May be quality and skill-wise we are not lacking but you need to get mentally tougher as to what needs to be done in big matches like these. We need to ask ourselves some questions as to whether we were ready to defend 264. May be that’s what we need to ask ourselves,” said the skipper.
He expects that the youngsters would step up and not depend on players like Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah all the time.
“We don’t have too many back-up options. Some of these youngsters have played for 3-4 years so it’s not fair to just drop them. We have to persist with them and also believe they can get mentally tougher,” he said.
Asked if he is mulling his future and whether he would be playing in the 2019 World Cup, he said: “May be, may be not. I am still enjoying my game.”
(With PTI inputs)